Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Day California Screamin' Crashed

My post from last week about The Worst Disneyland 50th Anniversary Souvenir got me thinking about another notable event from our trip down to Disneyland in 2005. In my cubicle at work I have a collection of unused fastpasses. Why I have them is anyone's guess - it's probably just because I usually have a few stuck in my wallet when we return from a trip and I just keep adding to the pile.  One of the old fastpasses is dated July 29, 2005 for California Screamin' in DCA with a return time of somewhere in the 3 to 4 o'clock range. The boy and I were both set to ride Sceamin' that afternoon. Mrs DisneylandTraveler? No way. She believes the inversion will "mess with my head" no matter how much I try to convince her to just close her eyes and the loop is over and done with in a split second. The rest of Screamin' is smooth as glass for a big coaster. My reasoning doesn't work. She's never been on it - never will.

How do I remember the July 29th date so vividly? Well, it was Disneyland's 50th Anniversary and the previous day, July 28th, I turned 50 as well. Disneyland and I have grown up together so to speak. Anyway, there were a group of us down at Disneyland that late July. Circumstances prevented me from having dinner with my immediate family on my birthday so as the 3 of us were wondering around California Adventure on the 29th waiting for the fastpass return time, we got a call from my sister and nieces saying that if we got down to Ralph Brennan's in Downtown Disney, they would treat me to a belated birthday dinner, an early dinner.

So after a minor debate we needed to figure out if we were going to wait for the Screamin' fastpass return time or just head on down to Downtown Disney to meet up with the gang. We opted for the latter. It was a six day trip so there were ample opportunities for a ride on Screamin' or so the boy and I thought.

That afternoon as we were wandering around Downtown Disney waiting to meet up with our dinner party  the unmistakable buzz of helicopters began filling sky - for the most part, news helicopters. We got to our large table in the restaurant still hearing the commotion outside. Then the word began to spread through Ralph Brennan's - California Screamin' had crashed, there were rescues going on and injuries reported.

There was a catastrophic brake failure near the end of the ride causing two trains to collide with one train to rear end another. The ride immediately shut down while other trains not in the accident were still at some very high places stuck on the track. Fire departments had to get people down. Fortunately, while some were taken to local hospitals, I believe most of the injuries were fairly minor mostly of the sprains, strains,  and whiplash variety.

The boy and I could have been on one of those trains or at least waiting to get on the ride had we chose to stay. It would be hard to say. Instead, I had a great birthday dinner and as for California Screamin'? I believe it shut down for about 3 months to investigate and correct the cause of the crash. We never did ride Sreamin' on that trip.

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